IDOLATRY OF PLACE

Monday, June 08, 2015



"Let me go, let me go, let me go lover, let me go, let me go, let me go!" goes the song.

Turn me loose, let me go needs to be said to many people and things. It's not always lovers that have us in a strong grip.

John Ortberg writes about the possibility of us being in the grip of idolatry and then mentions the idolatry of place. ( His book: All The Places To Go--How Will You Know?)

In a recent Face Book post I wrote about how much I love Arizona and how I believe we should love where we are. But I also see John's point that we can be held captive by the idolatry of place. 

We should never be so in love with place that we cannot be moved---not even by God.

When God opens a door we need to go through it. 

Change is hard, And it's not always easy to know if the voice we hear is God's voice. But we need to listen.

In Genesis God told Abraham to go. Abraham was told to leave home. That could not have been easy. But he went. God "opened a door" and Abraham went though it. From our perspective we can see it was the right thing to do.

We need to walk with God in such a way that when he speaks we recognize His Voice. 

Let's not let any place become an idol that we cannot break the grip of.

Abraham left his home and as a result became a blessing to many.

Called people are Blessed to Bless!

UN OFF—END—ABLE

Thursday, June 04, 2015


UN OFF—END—ABLE
How Just One Change Can
Make All Of Life Better
By Brant Hansen

OVERVIEW: Isn't taking offense normal? Aren't we supposed to get offended? Isn't anger at sin justifiable? If God gets mad, why can't we? Brant Hansen asks a radical, freeing question: What if Christians were the most unoffendable people on the planet? And he offers a life-changing idea: "righteous anger" is a myth, and giving up our "right" to be offended can be one of the most healthy, simplifying, relaxing, refreshing, stress-relieving, encouraging things we can do. In a winsome, humorous, and conversational style, Hansen helps you release religious burdens and experience the joy of gratitude, perhaps for the first time, every single day of your life.

AUTHOR: BRANT HANSEN is a radio host who has won multiple National Personality of the Year awards. He also works with CURE International, a worldwide network of hospitals that brings life-changing medical care and the good news of God's love to children with treatable conditions. Brant has been a game inventor and a youth pastor, and is still a very poor (his words) accordion player, although he ardently defends his right to play it. Brant currently lives in Northern California with his wife, Carolyn; his son, Justice; and his daughter, Julia. He can be found at branthansen.com and @branthansen on Twitter.

MY REVIEW: Even before I got to the table of contents I was liking this book. In the middle of a blank page I read these words: "To all those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others. Wait: that's everybody." I turned the page and found this powerful statement by Dallas Willard: "Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life." Wow! This is a good book.

The title of the first chapter states that being unoffendable is a ridiculous idea. Before reading Hansens's book that was exactly what I thought. After reading this splendid book, I changed my mind. However, I have to confess—I still struggle with the thought.

Hansen writes with a humorous, grace filled style. His book is easy to read but what he teaches is tough to accept as truth. But truth it is and by the time you get to the last page you will know it and accept it. This is a book that needed to be written AND READ.

( I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

SPINSTER—MAKING A LIFE OF ONE'S OWN

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

SPINSTER
Making A Life Of One's Own
By Kate Bolick

OVERVIEW: SPINSTER is a slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remain unmarried. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the potential within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives—a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and ours to savor.

AUTHOR: KATE BOLICK is a contributing editor to The Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.

MY REVIEW: As a minister for forty-seven years I did a lot of counseling. I counseled with singles, married, divorced, young, old, rich, poor, sexually confused, depressed—you name it. They were all trying to learn how to live authentically. Almost all of them were trying desperately to "measure up"—to please others. I wish I had read Kate Bolick's book back in my counseling days. Her book is not only helpful for singles, it encourages us all to examine the way we live. We all should consider the question Mary Oliver asks and Bolick ends her book with: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I didn't enjoy reading about Kate Bolick's sex life but maybe singles will feel they need this information. If so, they will not be disappointed as she is not timid in revealing this part of her life and the five woman she introduces as those who blazed a trail before her. I became a little bored with all the details she went into when telling us how these women lived.

Susan Cain is a bestselling author and one that I admire. However, I think she missed the mark when she said, "Kate Bolick's Spinster will take your breath away." I don't think so! However, I do think you will appreciate this book and Bolick's insistence on an examined life. Singles especially will be interested in the statement Bolick begins her book with: "WHOM TO MARRY, AND WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN—THESE TWO QUESTIONS DEFINE EVERY WOMAN'S EXISTENCE."
And if they do not already know it, she helps them to understand times have changed. You no longer have that question hanging over your head. You do not have to marry at all to live an authentic life.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

HOW TO ENJOY READING YOUR BIBLE

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


HOW TO ENJOY READING YOUR BIBLE
By Keith Ferrin

OVERVIEW: Do you feel like you SHOULD read the Bible more? This book will help you WANT to read it. Keith Ferrin has been talking to churches for years about enjoying God's Word. Here he shares the most helpful ideas and habits you can start using today. You will find ten proven tips that are equally practical whether you are a longtime Bible student or simply exploring what this life-changing book is all about. Aimed at deepening your relationship with God, these simple suggestions will help you focus more easily as your read, remember Scripture better, and most importantly, enjoy the Bible and its Author more than you ever dreamed possible. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: KEITH FERRIN is an author, speaker, and storyteller who strives to help people realize that the living Word of God is a reality—not a phrase. His one-man dramatic, word-for-word presentations of whole books of the Bible have been seen by thousands. Keith lives with his wife and three children just outside of Seattle, Washington.

MY REVIEW: Before I read Keith's book I would have said, "Yes, I enjoy reading the Bible!" Every Sunday for forty-seven years I went to the pulpit with a Bible in my hand. I preached from it. I taught Sunday morning and Wednesday night Bible classes. I preached from the Bible in evangelistic meetings. I conducted many small group home Bible studies. I love the Scriptures. I have given my life to teaching from them. Enjoy the Bible? Of course I do! However now, after reading this splendid book, I have to think that I haven't always enjoyed reading the Bible in the way Keith writes about it.

This book opened my eyes to many things. I now approach the Bible in a new way and I am enjoying it MORE. I believe every Christian I know can profit from reading this book. I hope many will read it and share what they learn with others. If you think you enjoy reading the Bible now get this book, you will enjoy it even more. And that will be a blessing.

(I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

TRULY FREE

Friday, May 15, 2015


TRULY FREE
Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle
By Robert Morris

OVERVIEW: Truly Free will show you the warning signs that your life may be opened to evil and how you can overcome the enemy and find freedom. Using clear, biblically based teaching, Robert Morris invites you to join him on  a journey to true freedom. You'll gain insight into your personal struggles as he openly shares how God helped him find freedom from chronic illness, lust, temptation, and insecurity. If you've ever wondered, Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? Why can't I change? Take heart—there is a way out! With relevant scriptures, prayers, and questions for contemplation or group discussion, this book explains how you can find lasting freedom and live truly free.

AUTHOR: Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus, evangelistic, Spirit-empowered church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He is featured on the weekly television program The Blessed Life, broadcast to approximately one hundred million homes in the United States and more than two hundred countries around the world. Robert is the bestselling author of eleven books.

MY REVIEW: The best thing about this book is that it dwells on the goodness and power and truth of Jesus Christ. It isn't a book that dwells on evil, the bizarre, cruel and unusual. There are other books that cover that. This book is about the freedom that is in Christ that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:1.

I agree with Joyce Meyer, Bible teacher and bestselling author, who said: "Truly Free is a great reminder that there is a spiritual battle raging all around us, but we have the victory in Christ. This book can give you hope no matter what struggles you are facing."

I don't agree with everything Robert Morris says in this book. Of course not! I read and review dozens of books every year and although I generally agree with most of what I read, I sometimes find myself in disagreement. The things I disagree with in Robert Morris's book are things that I am in serious study about. I haven't stopped reading and thinking about these things. I am reading, praying and asking for God's guidance.

This is an important book and one that every serious student of the Bible needs to consider.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

A SERENDIPITOUS TREASURE

Monday, May 04, 2015



Sorting through boxes of books trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of I made a wonderful discovery. I discovered I am the owner of a 1937 copy of Dale Carnegie's FIVE MINUTE BIOGRAPHIES. 

I am amazed at my surprise. Why? Because when it comes to books I have a great memory. I do not have a filing system for my many books and yet I can locate any book quickly. And it is a rare thing for me to forget when and where I acquired a book. Especially one I value as much as this one.

One of the first books I read as a teenager was Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. My brother gave me a copy of the book and asked me to read it. I wasn't interested in reading it but I'm glad I did. I still have the book and have read it many times.

I like to read biographies and I especially like the ones in this book because they are brief. And I like the way Carnegie writes. He is a great story teller and his book is filled with great stories about interesting people. I love the titles he gives to each one.
Titles like: The Missionary Who Got On The Wrong Train--And Became A Famous Magician; Two-cent Newspapers Bought Him Castles In Spain, Cuckoo Clocks, And Egyptian Mummies;He Was Ashamed Of Having Written Two Of The World's Greatest Novels; He Was Shot In The Breast But He Kept Right On With His Speech;The "Tough Guy" Who Went Through High School In Three Months And Wrote Fifty-One Books In Eighteen Years.

I was three years old when this splendid books was first published.
The price $1.00. To me it's a treasure. 




WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT

Friday, May 01, 2015


WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT
How To Find Peace While Chasing
Your Dreams
By Pete Wilson

OVERVIEW: Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you've only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. This is a book to be used as a field guide to ruthlessly trusting God's plan—even in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. Each chapter discusses some aspect of embracing God's call for your life, based on Scripture and the authors observations and experiences.

AUTHOR: Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2002. Cross Point has grown to reach more than six thousand people each week-end through its seven campuses located around the Nashville area, and online. As one of the fastest-growing churches in America, Pete's ministry—an outreach focused on helping people become devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside of God's family with the gospel—has made him a frequent speaker at national and international church conferences. Pete gained national attention in 2010 when Thomas Nelson published his best-selling book, Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a 6-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book, Empty Promises, Pete's second book, focuses on the human desire to find purpose and hope in things that are not God. Pete earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Kentucky Western University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

MY REVIEW: Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author wrote, "If you've ever been scared and confused about what to do next, this is the book for you." I agree! I also agree with Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign who said, "What Keeps You Up at Night? will help you not only discover the adventure you were born to live, but to actually live it."

Pete Wilson is an excellent communicator. In this splendid book he uses many illustrations to put his point across and tells wonderful stories that inspire. This is a book filled with wisdom. But it is mostly just good, common sense. You won't have to read and re-read to get the meaning and you won't have look up words in a dictionary. You will find yourself underling and marking passages that you want to remember and refer to again quickly. This is a book you will want to pass on to someone else you care about and you may buy extra copies to give away.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE CONSERVATARIAN MANIFESTO


THE CONSERVATARIAN MANIFESTO
Libertarians, Conservatives, And The Fight
For The Right's Future
By Charles C. W. Cooke

OVERVIEW: There is an underserved group of conservatives for whom fiscal responsibility, constitutional obedience, and controlled government spending remain crucial tenets, but issues such as gay marriage and drug control are approached with a libertarian bent. In this book Charles C. W. Cooke engages with the data and the philosophy behind this trend, applauding conservatarianism as a force that can help. Republicans mend the many ills that have plagued their party in recent years and sustain the momentum gained in the 2014 midterms. Conservatarians are vexed by Republicans' failure to cut the size and scope of Washington, D.C. but they are critical of some libertarians for their unacceptable positions on abortion, national defense, and immigration. They praise conservatives' efforts to protect Second Amendment rights—efforts that have recently been wildly successful—but they see the War on Drugs as unmitigated disaster that goes against everything conservatives ought to value. All movements run the risk of stagnation and of losing touch with the principles and values that made them successful in the first place. In The Conservatarian Manifesto, Charles Cooke shows the way back to a better and more honest conservatism that champions limited government, reality-based policy, and favor for the smallest minority of all, the individual.

AUTHOR: Charles C.W. Cooke is a writer at National Review and a graduate of the University of Oxford, at which he studied modern history and politics. His work has focused especially on Anglo-american history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism. Cooke is the cohost of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast and has broadcast for HBO (Real Time with Bill Maher), BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, The Blaze, CNBC, CTV, ABC, Sun News and CBS. In addition to National Review his writing has also been published by the New York Times, National Interest the Washington Times, and the New York Post.

MY REVIEW: The Conservatarian Manifesto needs to be read by all those interested in the current political era. Charles C. W. Cooke is a brilliant writer and he makes a strong case for the right to hold unpopular views and make unpopular choices. These views and choices may be wrong but he writes about the right of the individual to be wrong. In this splendid book, Charles C. W. Cooke makes it clear that conservatarianism is now a part of what is happening politically and that it needs to be examined and reasoned about. He does that brilliantly!

I recommend The Conservatarian Manifesto to all but especially to those with a right-leaning worldview. This is one of the most interesting and educational books I have read in a long time.
Cook is an excellent writer and a brilliant scholar. He makes his points as clearly as possible but still because of the topic, I found myself reading and re-reading. However, I don't see that as a bad thing. I think it helped me center in and to better understand what he was saying. If you are a person that is interested in what is going on in politics today and if you are willing to accept truth wherever you find it, you will love this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

MORE THAN JUST EXERCISE

Thursday, April 30, 2015


The gym is a good place for exercise. It is also a good place to make friends. Murray and Charlotte Schreiber are two of the friends my wife and I have at our gym. Charlotte is a lovely lady full of vim and vigor who loves life and makes friends easily. She is eighty-nine. Murray is a retired doctor with a brilliant mind and a beautiful voice. He is ninety-two. These two lovely people are Jewish and they love God and others. While visiting in their home yesterday Dr. Schreiber read me a devotional that he had just written.

SEE YOURSELF AS GOD SEES YOU

One who is made in the image of God and dearly loved.

One who is endowed with many gifts and talents.

One who deserves celebration for having achieved a good, valid self image.

To add to your well being always remember to recite daily prayers of gratitude for all the wondrous good elements in your life.


NO MORE EXCUSES DIET

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


NO MORE EXCUSES DIET
3 Days to Bust Any Excuse
3 Weeks to Easy New Eating Habits
3 Months to Total Transformation
Your real-life plan for your best body ever
By Maria Kang

OVERVIEW: When it comes to controlling your weight, a balanced diet is key. Unlike many restrictive programs that cut out an entire food group or demand huge sacrifices, Maria offers a realistic and long-term eating plan of 30 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fats, and 10 percent that can be customized depending on your goals. Maria has designed a completely customizable workout guide to incorporate exercise into even the busiest life. The No More Excuses Diet is not about making you feel guilty for how you look, or ashamed of the choices you've made; it is about getting you to a place where you feel in control of your life, love your body, and prioritize your health. Packed with lots of encouragement and a clear plan of action, The No More Excuses Diet will empower you to bust through the excuses that hold you back and start living a life you love.

AUTHOR: Maria King is a health advocate who believes that health begins with choice. She is the founder of Fitness Without Borders, as well as the No Excuse Mom movement, an organization of thousands of women around the country making a commitment to their health one day at a time. Maria lives in California with her husband and their three children.

MY REVIEW: This is not a book just for women or moms. This is a book for all of us. I am a male diabetic needing to lose weight, and get my blood sugar under control. I am now doing that. This book has helped. When I started reading the book I was already exercising, eating better, losing weight and getting my blood sugar under control, but I improved even more after following Maria's advice. I wish I had known about her book sooner.

This is a book with a real-life plan for a better body. Even if you do not need to lose weight but you do want to be healthier, then this is a book you need to read. Maria gives you exercises that you can do at home, and shows you how to develop new eating habits that will help change your life. IF you are one of the MANY that need to make some changes for your health's sake---then you will want to get this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY


SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY
Loving, Leaving, And Finding The Church
By Rachel Held Evans

OVERVIEW: For a generation that has largely said, "count me out," church represents a complicated relationship of both longing and apathy. There's a history there—a past full of confusion and hurt, but a past that often is impossible to abandon. In Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans exposes her own thorny relationship with the church, articulating the concerns, frustrations, and hopes of many of her peers. Through a series of stories told around the church's sacraments—baptism, confession, and communion, among others—Evans offers the beginnings of a road map back to church and the resurrection that awaits when we are willing to give up and begin again.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: Rachel Held Evans is an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in local and national publications. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. Follow her on her blog at rachelheldevans.com, on twitter at @RachelheldEvans, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/RachelHeldEvans.page.

MY REVIEW: In my opinion, this is a must read for every preacher—young and old, every Bible professor and church leader. I say this because I feel that Rachel Held Evans is describing what is going on in the minds of many who are concerned with the things about God, religion and every day living. All church leaders need to be informed. However, I'm not sure this is a book for everybody.
Many, mainly the ultra-conservative, may not be able to "handle" what Rachel is feeling and saying.
Oh, we all need to hear her message but if we can't meditate on it and reason through it without getting upset and "sick" then it's best we leave it to others to interpret it for us.

I have a graduate degree in Bible and was a minister for forty-seven years. I am conservative in my thinking. I had a difficult time in reading this book and determining how to review it. I understand what Rachel is saying and I am in agreement with much of it. But her experiences—what she is feeling and going through is so much different from anything I have personally experienced with the church that I can't identify with it. Again, I understand her deep emotion are real. Real for her but not for me. For example, Rachel saw a sign that read: "Vote Yes On One" and "Marriage=1 Man + 1 Woman" and it so upset her that she left the church and now years later is still bothered by it. I have strong feeling about the message from that sign but my feelings are entirely different than hers. And that's OK. At least, it's OK with me. What you will find in this book are the sincere, deep, emotional, thoughts of a great writer.

(I received this book free from the publisher for my honest review.)

FROM STRESS TO SUCCESS

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


BEYOND WILLPOWER
FROM STRESS TO SUCCESS IN 40 DAYS
The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life,
Love, and Happiness
By Alexander Loyd, Ph.D., N.D.

OVERVIEW: Rooted in science, ancient wisdom, and proven therapeutic techniques to remove personal obstacles that sabotage us, Beyond Willpower offers a revolutionary forty-day holistic program based on more than twenty-five years of clinical experience. With this program you will identify and clarify what fundamentally defines success for you. Then you'll receive the three simple tools you need to internally shift from fear to love physically (using the Energy Medicine tool), mentally (using the Reprogramming Statements tool), and spiritually (using the Heart Screen tool). No matter how you define success – as a wealth, career satisfaction, healing of health issues, or resolution of relationship problems—Beyond Willpower will help you achieve it once and for all, quickly and for the long term. (From inside the front dust cover).

AUTHOR: Alexander Loyd holds doctorates in psychology and naturopathic medicine and has been a psychological counselor for more than twenty-five years. his private practice has become one of the largest of its kind in the world, with clients in all fifty states and more than 150 countries. He is the author of the international bestseller The Healing Code.

MY REVIEW: I want to begin my review with what William A. Tiller, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Stanford University said about Beyond Willpower: "Valuable information for everyone to access. This book is in perfect harmony with ageless wisdom: In all ways, to thine own self be true. Seek your answers to life's questions from within, rather than from the world without." I also want to agree with the words of Janet Atwoood, New York Times bestselling author of The Passion Test. She said, "This is a paradigm shift breakthrough, turns most conventional wisdom about how to achieve success on its head, and explains why so many things that have sounded good have failed to produce results over the last fifty years."

That being said, I need to clarify something about my own views of this book. Although, I agree with almost everything Dr. Loyd has to say, I have a much stronger view of the part God plays in healing and bringing peace to our lives than Dr. Loyd does—or at least more than he states in the book. He speaks of God, love and grace, which is good. I see God, love and grace powerfully packed into a bold, capital letter GOD. Maybe he does too. I'm not sure. I just want my Christian friends to realize that although I accept truth wherever I find it that as a retired minister I am not leaving my message from the Bible about God, love and grace and finding it now in psychology. The Bible is good. Psychology is good. The Bible is where I go first.

I recommend this book as a tool to help those who are burdened with stress and fear and don't know which way to turn.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

DON'T PULL THE PLUG ON A CHURCH THAT' ISN'T DYING

Monday, March 16, 2015


It is not always a bad thing when a church is plateaued or declining. This is happening to the typical church today.

The typical church will have a ten percent attrition rate annually, regardless of its health. People move out of the area for various reasons and some die. So simply maintaining where you are is a sign of growth.

Another reason for a flat growth may be a decision that was made that didn't please everybody and the disgruntled moved away. But this isn't always bad. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is that certain people will find a church suited to their beliefs.

Then there are some churches that are limited in their growth potential because of where they are located. This doesn't mean that a church is not needed there.

Another reason may be the church is just in a season of natural ebb and flow. Over the years I have watched this happen many times. The pattern is to have a season of growth followed by a season of consolidation. It happens.

Every church doesn't have to be a mega church to be a true church of Christ.  Looking back I'm thankful that my children grew up in churches where they could love and be loved by both the young and those not so young. These were churches where everybody knew your name.

I believe there is a place for the mega church that is reaching out to those who were raised totally outside of organized religion. But we don't need to "kill off" a church that isn't really dying just to replace it with something we think will appeal more to the secular minded.

You want to be a part of a booming, growing, mega-church? Good. Go with God. Go join one!
Go "plant" one that you will lead and be loyal to.

But don't destroy a church of Christ because YOU deem it dead. Let the church be faithful to those things that led to its growth to begin with. Don't worry. Take heart. If you are in a church that has plateaued or declining it's not necessarily a bad thing.